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Cursus: MCMV17004
The Ludification of Culture
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (EC)5
The goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of games and play as ‘lenses’ that they can use to investigate contemporary culture and forms of media use. It departs from the ‘ludification of culture’ hypothesis, which holds that play has become an inextricable element of our postmodern culture and postfordist (creative) economies, and aims to a) enable students to conceptualize the ‘player experience’ as well as interpret games as models of the cultures they  emerge from. The notion of ‘players’ thereby will be used in a broader sense that merely ‘gamers’ but incorporates e.g. also media fandom as play or playful forms of social media activity.

Moreover, the course introduces two methods, auto-ethnography and netnography, that are particularly suited to studying the ludification of culture. These methods are intended to expand the existing methodological ‘toolbox’ and in the course we will discuss how to productively combine them e.g. with  textual analysis, discourse analysis, media archaeology or ethnography. It is not mandatory to use them for the final paper.
As the course leverages both on play and on games as metaphors for investigating contemporary culture, it follows a two-part structure.

Part I (session 1-3) focuses on play, conceptualizing the player experience and studying (meta-)playing practices as well as communities, in which these activities take place. Moreover, both methods will be introduced in this first part to enable those students, who wish to do so, to incorporate them properly into their final project.

Part II (session 5-7) shifts the focus to analyzing games as ‘texts’ that reflect contemporary socio-cultural parameters (norms, assumptions, beliefs etc.). This includes, in the final session, a close look at the functions of games in transmedia contexts.
Both parts are separated by the symposium in week 4, during which students will pitch their ideas and receive further feedback on how to operationalize them.
The themed sessions include critical discussions of the mandatory course literature (1-2 texts per week), research exercises in small groups including the structured presentation of the findings (as well as one or two analytical design exercises), lecture segments that introduce theoretical frameworks and perspectives as well as case studies.

Career orientation:

The course incorporates some design research-oriented assignments, which combine theoretical issues and practical rationales. Moreover, the topics and critical discussions address issues (e.g. player communities, video games as cultural vehicles, transmedia aesthetics) that are relevant for the work field and methods (e.g. netnography) that are practically valuable.
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